14th December 1997

The Jungle Telegraph

By Alia

More changes?

Military circles are buzzing with reports of another round of changes next week.

This time, they say, the move has been prompted by reversals suffered when LTTE launched its sixth counter attack on troops of “Operation Jaya Sikurui” on December 4. Six officers and 148 soldiers, mostly commandos and special forces, died in the incident.

Re-inforcements that were inducted by the Joint Operations Headquarters in Vavuniya were still engaged in search and destroy missions. There were anxious moments when a column of troops were cut off.

The impending changes, military circles say, will also incorporate the postings of three senior Army officers who have concluded their overseas training stints.

They are Major General Janaka Perera (National Defence College, United Kingdom), Major General Neil Dias (National Defence College, India) and Brigadier Lohan Gunawardena (National Defence College, India)

Privileged few

As the year comes to a close, the talking point in Police circles is whether the “privileged few” will get another annual extension.

Those up for promotion are the most worried and complain that further extensions will only ruin their future prospects.

When the PA Government was voted to power, those over 60 years of age and holding positions were asked to retire. It was then said that the policy was not to allow those over 60 to serve.

It seems the services of some were so indispensable, the rule had to be broken. So what ? After all they deliver whatever is asked for !!

Hurdles and plunges

For those moderate Tamil political parties wanting to win the confidence of voters at the forthcoming local Government polls in the north, there appears to be two big hurdles to clear.

This is what one of the parties wanting to contest, Eelam People’s Revolutionary Liberation Front (EPRLF) discovered.

They sent in the names of 35 persons including 12 candidates for Ministry of Defence clearance.

Only five candidates have been cleared so far. Security checks are still being carried out on the others. Once that hurdle is over, they have another to cross before plunging into the polls campaign. That is to seek seats on a priority basis to fly to Jaffna. The only private airline operator has over a 1,000 cleared by the MOD waiting to fly.

Well and truly grounded !

Believe it or not. The Sri Lanka Air Force troop flights have all been grounded.

The result - 2500 soldiers bound for Palaly are stranded at Ratmalana. A private operator who has been called upon to airlift them finds the load too much. It is not only the transport planes that are not flying. Even the MI 17 Hind helicopters which were used for troop transport.

Military officials fear a prolonged delay will only lead to a bigger build up of soldiers who want to come on leave from Palaly.

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